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Is Your Business Prepared for a Natural Disaster?

The past year has brought more than enough weather and natural occurrences, from floods to hurricanes to blizzards and earthquakes. Disasters such as these can wreak havoc on businesses. Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to catastrophic events. The costs incurred from damages can easily destroy even the most stable of companies. We thought it timely to provide some tips and suggestions to help better prepare your business to handle a natural disaster or catastrophe.

Think Ahead

Don’t wait until that nor’easter is bearing down on you or the local river is about to overflow to get your business ready. Natural disasters happen all the time, often with little warning so it’s important to map out a plan beforehand so that if and when something happens you’re more than ready to face it. Take some time to sit down and consider every possible variable. For instance, what would you do if a fire broke out in your building? What about a flood? By covering as many scenarios as possible your plan will be comprehensive and more efficient.

Your disaster plan should include:

  • Number of employees and what times they are in the building
  • Evacuation plan (route, points of egress, meeting point, etc.)
  • When and how often you will hold evacuation drills
  • How and where to access any necessary shut-offs (gas, electric, water)
  • Options for moving merchandise if needed
  • Emergency contact information

You really can’t have too much information in your disaster plan, so be thorough. Once the plan is complete, discuss it with your employees so they understand their roles. It may also be a good idea to take the most important points and post them where they can easily be referred to in an emergency.

Finally, put together a catastrophe kit. Include things like fire extinguishers, first aid kits, flashlights and a copy of your emergency evacuation plan. Make sure your employees know where the kit is located.

Protect Your Property

Obviously the most important concern when a disaster strikes is the safety of you and your employees. Then you have to consider the protection and preservation of your business’s property – both electronic and physical. According to a report by SCORE “a company that experiences a power outage lasting more than 10 days will never fully recover financially.” Add to this the cost of damage to your building, equipment and other physical property and you’ll probably want to schedule an EKG (come to think of it, maybe you should add your cardiologist’s number to your emergency contact list).

Safeguard your important business property by doing the following:

  • Back up all computer files and data and store the information at a location at least 100 miles away from your business.
  • Store important paperwork offsite. Documents such as insurance policies, licenses, etc. should all be kept at another location, such as a bank safety deposit box, in case of disaster. Keep copies of the originals onsite for reference.
  • If your business deals with large amounts of cash, invest in a fireproof and water resistant safe.

Call Your Friendly Insurance Agent

"There are worst things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance agent?" ~ Woody Allen

We admit, nobody likes dishing out money for “what if” scenarios that may never even happen. But it’s an absolute necessity if your business is to be prepared for a disaster. There are a ton of different options and policy types for businesses, so shop around until you find the one that’s the best fit for your company’s needs. And don’t forget to assess your policy whenever your business grows or changes to be sure you have adequate coverage.


Natural disasters and other catastrophes occur every day around the world. Small businesses owners that aren’t prepared can quickly find themselves watching their dreams (and their hefty investments) going up in smoke. By putting these tips to use and preparing ahead you can help to protect your business and ensure that it can weather any storm (or fire or flood – well, you get the idea).

posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 9:32 AM